By the Numbers

A new report from Safe Routes to School and APHA shows how greater use of data can promote walking and biking to school.

Walking and biking as modes of transportation benefit people, public health and the environment. Walking and biking promote daily physical activity, and reduce emissions and pollution. However, in order for walking and biking to be possible, neighborhoods and cities must be able to support foot and bike traffic. Accessible data on walking and biking can help communities prepare for and promote these healthy behaviors.

Last week, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, with support of APHA, released a report detailing how data can be used to increase the number of people who walk and bike to school. The report includes data and case studies on communities where people walk or bike to school, and provides tips on how to access data for further research and interventions.

In many lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color, infrastructure supporting walking and biking such as sidewalks and bike lanes are unavailable or inadequate. This can result in a higher risk of injury or death due to motor vehicle crashes, a decrease in rates of walking and biking and a decline in public health.

The report highlights these inequities while encouraging public health and transportation professionals to use data on walking and biking for fundraising, community awareness and violence prevention. It also analyzes safety, infrastructure, and access to data and reporting.

“Walking and biking as modes of transportation are important for a number of reasons, including the physical benefits and reduction in air pollution,” said Kate Robb, policy analyst at APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to walk and bike safely, and when kids walk or bike to school, they form habits that will last through adulthood. The data in this report can be used to ensure that kids have the support to walk and bike to school safely.”

Community-specific case studies throughout the report highlight programs that make walking and biking safer in places like Seattle, Denver and San Francisco, and in New Jersey, where apps, transportation agencies and weather preparedness have made walking and biking more accessible.

Visit APHA’s active transportation page to learn more about transportation and public health.